“He’s smart and intelligent,” says Ciaran Whelan, pitchside with Clare McNamara.
“He’s vital to the Dublin gameplan,” says Martin Carney, up on the seventh floor alongside Ger Canning.
“He’s vital,” chorus Joe Brolly and Pat Spillane, in the studio with Michael Lyster. Sounds a key guy alright.
O’Sullivan is from Kilmacud Crokes, which prompts Michael to reminisce about the changes in the demographics of Dublin GAA since he came to the capital.
Back then, he contends, “you wouldn’t see two gaelic footballers on the southside”.
That’s the influence of the Dublin team of the 1970s, Colm O’Rourke declares.
Off we go.
Kerry won the minor, Ger points out. They won the Derby in Shelbourne Park last night. Are they going to win this one too? It’s tempting to believe so when Stephen Cluxton scutters two early clearances out over the sideline. It appears as though Kerry have already cracked Dublin’s kickout code, which is rather like Poirot solving the mystery inside the opening chapter of the book. Boo. Hiss.
But hold hard. The half wears on and the challengers slowly take control. They’re finding space much easier, Martin declares. “Kerry are being choked every time they go forward.” To underline his assertion Philly McMahon ends one of his rampaging upfield runs with a point in injury time.
“He’s now outscored his marker Colm Cooper,” Ger notes.
Half-time and Pat looks chastened. He even sounds chastened, which obviously isn’t very Pat and in a way is almost worrying. “When Dublin are on the front foot they’re the best team in the country by a mile,” he acknowledges. Two things have surprised him about Kerry’s performance: their conservatism and their inaccuracy.
Colm makes an interesting observation, maintaining that in bad conditions four points is a big lead. “Kerry have to do something in the first five or ten minutes before it goes away from them altogether.” Michael, hopping a ball, suggests that the situation is not unlike it was at the break a fortnight ago, with Galway leading by three points having done most of the hurling and with the other crowd poised to get their act together upon the restart. “This has the same vibe to me,” he muses.
You’d swear he was a Galway man suffering a mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Come to think of it, he is a Galway man suffering a mild form of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The panel are quick to pooh pooh his novel comparison, largely on the grounds that, whatever about Kerry being Kilkenny or otherwise, the Dublin footballers certainly aren’t the Galway hurlers.
“Galway had no All-Ireland medals,” Joe says. “Dublin do. Different kettle of fish.”
Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head was playing just as the teams came out for the second half, Ger reveals. “Someone has a peculiar sense of humour.” A guy whose feet are too big for his bed, presumably, or at any rate whose sense of humour doesn’t stray too far from the bleedin’ obvious. Also, the the Special Ops guys on both sides have turned up. Darran O’Sullivan is on for Kerry and Kevin McManamon for Dublin. Michael Dara Macauley is soon in the fray too.
The second half runs along much the same tracks as the first half and Kerry fail to conjure an improbable late equalising goal. Pat is graciousness personified. In truth, the winners’ superiority has left him with little option. “No ifs, no buts, no maybes. Comprehensively beaten.” How comprehensively, precisely? Let him count the ways.
“No swagger. They were always on the back foot. Dublin won midfield. They won every individual battle. When Dublin bring their A game – high tempo, on the front foot – no team can live with them.” By far the best team won, he concludes.
Colm is more succinct. Meath men usually are. “Dublin murdered Kerry.” Quite.
We finish with Cian O’Sullivan, the man of the pre-match moment, who lasted the trip very well and who turns up on the field with Clare Mac. Not a bother on him despite the raindrops falling on his head. And yes, he sounds like a southsider alroysh. Wouldn’t have happened in Michael’s day.